Study Supply Chain Management: Associate's & Bachelor's Degree Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in supply chain management? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and supply chain management training programs.
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Supply Chain Management Degrees at a Glance

The field of supply chain management involves the delivery of products to customers based on two ideas: that multiple organizations participate in product delivery and that managing the chain of activities improves customer experience. Consequently, the supply chain management industry offers a variety of positions in production, transportation, warehousing and logistics. Generally, employers seek candidates for these positions who possess strong organizational, communication and problem-solving skills.

Schools generally offer supply chain management degree programs through their college of business administration. An associate's degree program can prepare you for entry-level opportunities in operations or purchasing, while a bachelor's degree program can prepare you for a career in management. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that, during the 2010-2020 decade, purchasing agents would see 7% growth and logisticians 26% growth in job opportunities (www.bls.gov).

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? Individuals seeking entry-level positions in the transportation, warehousing or production industries People interested in management careers in a range of sectors
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) - Cargo and freight agent ($41,000)*
- Purchasing agent ($61,000)*
- Wholesale or manufacturing sales representative (except technical or scientific products) ($64,000)*
- Logistician ($75,000)*
- Transportation, storage or distribution manager ($81,000)*
- Purchasing manager ($103,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - Roughly 60 credits of coursework - Roughly 120 credits of coursework
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's in Supply Chain Management

An associate's degree program in supply chain management delivers a strong foundation in how to evaluate of a company's supply chain network. Programs provide training in areas like customer service, inventory control, transportation and logistics management. In these programs, you also learn how to monitor quality and customer service, make sound decisions that limit financial expenditures and incorporate standard business practices into an employer's operations procedures. Schools commonly structure programs so that they provide an education in business finance, communication and common technologies.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Degree can lead to a job in a growing industry; cargo and freight agents could expect 29% job growth during the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Degree can lead to a high-paying career; wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives earned mean annual salaries of $64,000 in 2011**
  • Earned credits may transfer to a bachelor's degree program, which may allow you to earn a bachelor's degree in less than four years

Cons

  • The performance of the wholesale and retail industries influences the availability of purchasing manager, buyer and purchasing agent positions
  • Some positions in sales have commission-based pay structures, which can affect your earnings
  • Certification may be necessary for some positions, which can be time consuming and expensive

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

Associate's degree programs combine general education, leadership and business coursework with classes focusing on logistics and supply chain management. Programs are designed to prepare you for positions in raw material supply, distribution or retail. Some schools also deliver training in import and export processes and regulations. Courses may cover topics like:

  • International logistics
  • Global marketing
  • Transportation management
  • Purchasing
  • Economics
  • Industrial distribution
  • Internal plant logistics

Online Degree Info

Online associate's degree programs include courses similar to those provided by campus-based options. However, you might find that some schools offer hybrid or accelerated programs. In addition, some programs offer a wider range of courses and electives than others.

Stand Out with This Degree

Earning certification might improve your job prospects. The Manufacturers' Representatives Education Research Foundation offers the Certified Professional Manufacturers' Representative credential, which validates your skills in outsourced sales functions. Additionally, the Association for Operations Management's Certified Supply Chain Professional credential demonstrates that you are skilled in industry terminology and practices. You must pass an exam to earn either of these credentials.

Bachelor's in Supply Chain Management

Bachelor's degree programs in supply chain management offer advanced education in industry-standard theories and practices. These programs emphasize the importance of supply and demand management throughout a business's supply chain. Some schools offer upper-division courses that require completion of a capstone project and lab work. In these programs, you might take courses in topics like information technology as a management tool, e-commerce strategies and environmental sustainability. Elective courses focus on subjects such as quality management, research and business consulting.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Program can lead to a high-paying career after graduation; for example, purchasing managers earned relatively competitive mean annual salaries of $103,000*
  • Programs offer a range of specializations and elective coursework, allowing you to craft your degree to suit your career goals
  • Business courses can prepare you for entry into fields other than supply chain management

Cons

  • Some jobs for which the degree prepares you are not expected to experience much growth; for example, purchasing managers are predicted to only see 7% growth during the 2010-2020 decade*
  • Competition against master's degree holders might present a challenge for logistician positions
  • Some positions, such as logistician, only require an associate's degree, meaning that you will be competing against associate's degree holders for some jobs

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Courses and Requirements

The curriculum of these bachelor's degree programs emphasize the integration and management of technology, financial capital and raw information into supply chain design, implementation and management processes. Some programs offer a concentration in global supply chain management. Classes in these programs include market analysis, cost management, technology management, negotiations, customer relationships, international marketing and business-to-business marketing.

Online Degree Info

Online bachelor's degree programs focus on business, logistics and operations. To that end, classes in them cover topics like business law, accounting and statistics. Some programs prepare you to earn certification after graduation.

Stand Out with This Degree

Similar to the associate's degree program, experience and certification might improve your employment prospects. For example, the BLS reports that logisticians should obtain work experience in a related field. For this purpose, consider taking advantage of internships and cooperative education opportunities in a business or supply chain environment. For certification, the American Society of Transportation and Logistics offers the Distinguished Logistics Professional credential, which may help you demonstrate your competence in the field.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate: Business Admin.
      • AASBA in Small Business Management
      • AASBA in Retail Management
      • AASBA -Entrepreneurship
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate of Science - Business Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • A.S. Business
      • A.S. General Studies - Business
      • A.S. General Studies - Entrepreneurship
  • Online Programs Available
    6. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Thomas Edison State University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AS in Business Administration (ASBA)
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Excelsior College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • AAS in Administrative and Management Studies
  • Youngwood, PA

    Westmoreland County Community College

  • Waco, GA

    West Georgia Technical College

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Associate: Business Admin.
  • AASBA in Small Business Management
  • AASBA in Retail Management

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Colorado Technical University

  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

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Keiser University

  • Associate of Arts - Accounting

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Herzing University

  • Associate of Science - Business Management
  • Associate of Science - Business Studies

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • A.S. Business
  • A.S. General Studies - Business
  • A.S. General Studies - Entrepreneurship

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American InterContinental University

  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

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Thomas Edison State University

  • AS in Business Administration (ASBA)

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Excelsior College

  • AAS in Administrative and Management Studies

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